Trade Minister pledges support for Easts businesses during his first visit to region

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30 January 2014

Trade Minister Lord Livingston reiterated his support for small and medium-sized businesses as he met with over 20 companies in a series of meetings and visits across the East of England today (30 January).

On his first visit to the region since his appointment in 2013, Lord Livingston heard first-hand the experiences of companies currently looking to export overseas and to encourage businesses to work with UK Trade & Investment, (UKTI) .

The visit follows the announcement last week that every medium-sized business in the country will be offered tailored export advice and an intensive programme of support to help them start exporting or break into new markets. Evidence shows that exporters do better with UKTI’s help, and on average medium -sized businesses can increase their sales by £1.8m. Currently medium-sized businesses contribute around a fifth of employment and turnover in the UK, however only 17% of them generate revenues outside of the EU compared to 25% in Germany and 30% in Italy.

UKTI is also raising awareness of its services with smaller companies through a new national marketing campaign, Exporting is GREAT.

Last week UKTI launched a refreshed exporting strategy ‘Britain Open for Business: The Next Phase’ which sets out clear commitments to increase help for MSBs, offer enhanced support for small companies, and continue the focus on high growth markets such as China and India and on emerging markets in Central America and parts of Africa.

Amongst the companies Lord Livingston met today were:

Sagentia Group plc, headquartered in Harston, Cambridge – a London-listed company providing science, technology and product development services to clients in the healthcare, industrial, oil and gas, and consumer sectors. Currently, over 80% of Sagentia’s market is derived from international markets with particular focus on North America and Continental Europe, but an increasing presence in emerging markets.

Contamac, based in Saffron Walden, Essex – a small business formed in 1987 with an initial £1000 investment. The company is a leader in the development of specialist polymers and the largest contact lens materials producer in the world winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade in 2012. The company now exports 85% of its output to 65 countries.

e2v, based in Chelmsford, Essex – a Mid-Sized Business specialising in innovative technology solutions, including a billion pixel imaging device for the recently launched Gaia satellite and RF Power driving 90% of the world’s cancer radiotherapy systems. e2v has recently signed a multi-million pound Russian imaging contract for the World Space Observatory with the support of UKTI Trade and Investment Minister Lord Livingston said:

“Increasing the number of UK businesses which sell overseas is a fundamental building block of the Government’s long-term economic plan.

“The East of England has an exceptional record for innovation with market-leading small and medium-sized businesses already at the forefront of their sectors. I’m in the region today to hear from these companies and ensure they are getting the support they need to maximise the export potential of their business.

“Businesses excel with UKTI’s support and we want to make sure that they are not just trading abroad, but growing there.”

Liz Basing, Regional Director for UKTI East of England, said:

“Today has been a fantastic opportunity to showcase the strength in depth we have within the East of England. The most recent export statistics demonstrate the region is performing well in high-growth markets like China and India, and emerging markets such as Mexico - but we can do even more and there really has never been a better time to begin exporting."

“Our team of International Trade Advisers work with companies of all sizes across the region, bringing knowledge and expertise based on personal experience of international business. Our aim to is to help businesses maximise their potential and we will work with companies to develop strategies to enter or grow market share overseas, as well as help find contacts or information sources - so call the team on 0845 641 9955 or email us at”

Martyn Ratcliffe, Chairman and CEO of the Sagentia Group plc said:

“As a leading London-listed science and technology services company, Sagentia welcomes the opportunity to engage more closely with government and academic research organisations.

“The UK science and engineering industry has an excellent international reputation which provides an export-led opportunity to significantly contribute to the economic recovery. A more integrated relationship between industry, government and academic science and technology programmes offers substantial growth opportunities and we welcome the increase in government engagement in recognising the potential of the UK's world-leading science capability."

John McGregor, Managing Director Contamac, said:

"The visit of Lord Livingston reinforces the government's appreciation of the contribution that SMEs make to the economy. Contamac are delighted to have the support of UKTI in extending our export initiatives. We hope that other SMEs will take full advantage of the support recently announced."

Marc Saunders, Group Marketing and Technology Director at e2v said:

The UKTI offers a valuable range of services. Their breadth and depth of genuinely local market knowledge and their research capability can be of great help to even experienced exporters like e2v”.

Notes to editors

1. The government's economic policy objective is to achieve 'strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.' It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

· - to create the most competitive tax system in the G20

· - to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business

· - to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy

· - to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

2. UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) is the government department that helps UK-based companies succeed in the global economy. We also help overseas companies bring their high quality investment to the UK’s economy – acknowledged as Europe’s best place from which to succeed in global business. UKTI offers expertise and contacts through its extensive network of specialists in the UK, and in British embassies and other diplomatic offices around the world. We provide companies with the tools they require to be competitive on the world stage. For more information on UKTI, visit or visit the online newsroom at

3. The latest East of England regional figures for the export of goods, as at the end of September 2013, show that exports to markets outside the EU continue to rise – up by 2.5% per cent year on year to £11.85bn; however exports to the EU are down 9.9% year on year to £15.19bn. Overall, regional exports to the end of September 2013 are down 4.9% year on year at £27.04bn. The region’s exports to China continue to grow - up 9% at £766m. Other key export markets showing strong growth for the region include Mexico, up 52% at £214m; India up 6.3% at £308m; Hong Kong up 26% at £613m, and USA – the East’s biggest market – up 8.7% at £3.5bn.

Other highlights include a 26% increase in exports to Hong Kong at £613m, India up 6.3% at £308m and a 200 per cent rise in exports to Angola with the annual total now at £255m.

4. Mid-sized businesses covered are defined as companies with a turnover of between £25 million and £250 million. Bespoke trade advice will be given to every business that wants assistance to sell their products and services overseas by April next year.

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